Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Les Miserables" Movie Casting News

Advertisement from 1991 that appeared in entertainment trade papers
such as Variety announcing the movie version of 'Les Miserables'.
Alan Parker, who went on to direct the movie version of "Evita" was set
to direct until Bruce Beresford ("Driving Miss Daisy") replaced him.
The movie project was stuck in development and eventually abandoned.
The final main roles in the big screen adaption of the hit musical 'Les Miserables' have fallen into place with the final piece being the casting of the coveted role of Eponine. Samantha Banks who played the role in London's West End and in the 25th Anniversary Concert is reported to have beat out high-profile names including Scarlett Johansson, Lea Michele, Evan Rachel Wood and Taylor Swift. It appears with this bit of casting few are arguing the choices for the film's cast as we all finally look forward to this screen adaptation after more than 25 years since the stage musical premiered in London in 1985.

Previously confirmed in the cast:
Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean
Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert
Anne Hathaway as Fantine
Amanda Seyfried ("Mamma Mia") as Cosette
Eddie Redmayne ("My Week With Marilyn", 'Red' Broadway play) as Marius
Aaron Tveit ("Gossip Girl", 'Catch Me If You Can' Broadway musical) as Enjolras
Sacha Baron Cohen as Monsier Thenardier
Helena Bonham Caarter as Madame Thenardier

The cast will also include Colm Wilkinson, the original stage Valjean, as the Bishop of Digne and Frances Rufelle, the original stage Eponine, who will play a prostitute. Other London stage actors to appear in the film include Kerry Ellis, Linzi Hately, Bertie Carvel and Alistair Brammer.

Click HERE to for the Daily Mail article about the surprising onstage announcement of Banks wining the role of Eponine.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh surprises Samantha Banks on the 'Oliver'
UK Tour to announce that Banks has won the role of Eponine in the
'Les Miserables' film. (image: BBC/Daily Mail)
Samantha Banks and Frances Rufelle, original stage Eponine, at the
25th Anniversary 'Les Miserables' concert.
(image: Alan Davidson/Daily Mail)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

New Phantom Mask Logo for 'The Phantom of the Opera' on Broadway

Left: New Phantom logo debuts in Times Square at the corner of 7th and 47th;
Right photos: The new marquee at the Majestic Theatre.
(image: Dewynters)
(image credit: Peter James Zielinski/BroadwayWorld
The marquee of the Majestic Theatre in New York City got a makeover late in December. For 'The Phantom of the Opera's' 25th year on the Great White Way, the new Phantom logo which advertising company Dewynters refreshed for London has now been adopted for the show's Broadway home.

The former version was the white mask on a black background. The newer logo is much brighter with the mask enlarged on a blue-colored background. For more photos, visit For info about the advertising company for 'Phantom', visit

Dewynters is responsible for some of the most iconic advertising artwork for theatre in New York and London which includes the waif for 'Les Misereables', the brush-stroked helicopter for 'Miss Saigon', the girl in the wedding dress for 'Mamma Mia' and the feline's eyes for 'Cats'. Below right is the old version of the 'Phantom' logo.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Barnes & Noble Exclusive: The Phantom of the Opera at the Albert Hall on DVD and Blu-ray

Barnes & Noble exclusive release of the DVD includes bonus
souvenir program. (photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
Much like how Walmart or Target distribute exclusive versions of compact discs and DVDs, Barnes & Noble has done the same. The exclusive versions sold by these retailers mainly include additional material that is not included in the versions sold elsewhere.

The latest Barnes & Noble exclusive is the DVD/Blu-ray release of "The Phantom of the Opera at the Albert Hall in Celebration of 25 Years". Unlike their exclusive CD releases of the 2008 'South Pacific' and 2009 'West Side Story' New Broadway Cast Recordings, the Phantom 25th DVD/Blu-ray discs themselves do not include any additional material and includes all the same material sold at other stores and online.

The B&N exclusive is a bonus 24-page mini-reproduction of the celebration's souvenir program. The program does not includes only highlight pages from the original program sold at the show.. But what makes this mini program a collectible is the credit for Wendy Ferguon who played Carlotta at the event. Due to an illness, the scheduled actress, Keira Duffy, could not perform. However Duffy's name and photo had already been included in the printing of the original full-sized programs.

Click HERE to purchase the DVD or HERE for the Blu-ray from Be sure the product description online says "Barnes & Noble Exclusive". The version I purchased at my local B&N store had no sticker or anything on the cover to indicate it as such. But the sales associate assured me the program was included and indeed it was once I opened the packaging.

Above and below: Pages from the souvenir program in the DVD package.
The program includes a credit for Wendy Ferguson (above center) which
was in the original program sold at the event.

Now I have mixed feelings regarding these exclusives. First of all the exclusive versions are not widely publicized so you may have already purchased the item elsewhere not knowing there was an exclusive and being a collector you may have to pay for another copy to obtain the additional material.

Secondly these exclusives can get out of hand if you are looking for a definitive version. For example Sony Masterworks released three versions of the 2009 'West Side Story' New Broadway Cast Recording. There was the standard version sold in most stores that included 16 tracks. Then there was the iTunes release which included 18 tracks. The two additional songs was "A Boy LIke That/I Have a Love" sung in English (in the show the song is performed in Spanish) and "Jump" instrumental track.

However the Barnes & Noble release of the recording included 19 tracks. The three additional tracks were different from the bonus tracks on the iTunes release: "I Feel Pretty" sung in English (this song also performed in Spanish in the show) and two instrumental tracks of "Somewhere" and "Tonight".

Thirdly these exclusives are limited releases so once they're gone, they're gone. Luckily the iTunes version of this 'West Side Story' is still available but if you already own the CD, you would have to purchase the entire recording on iTunes. The bonus tracks are not available for individual sale.

If you do get these exclusives and know that they are such, you will probably feel you got something extra rare once the original stock is sold out.

I am happy I was aware of these and other exclusives sold at these stores as I was able to purchase them before they were no longer available. However I know I would be disappointed if I was a fan of these productions and lost out on getting one of the exclusives.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Loose Change Forgotten at TSA Checkpoints

(image credit: The Dallas Morning News)
According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), $409,085.56 in loose change was forgotten or intentionally left at airport checkpoints. As reported by the Gannett Washington Bureau, this is how it breaks down: $376,480.39 in dollar coins, quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies, plus foreign currency worth $32,605.17.

Those who leave loose coins at the airport are likely rushing for a flight or foreign travelers returning home who may feel they no longer have any use for U.S. change. The Gannett report adds that it may be because coins are no longer appealing in an increasingly cashless society and it weighs down pockets and purses.

By airport here is where passengers left the most change in 2010:

  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (New York)   $46,918.06
  • Los Angeles International   $19,110.83
  • Hartsfield Atlanta International   $16,523.83
  • San Francisco International   $15,908.02
  • Miami International   $15,844.83

It's like those plastic bowls at security checkpoints have become TSA tip jars. But a TSA spokesperson indicated they should make every effort to reunite passengers with items left at checkpoints. Money that cannot be returned is used to finance the agency's operations. Republican Representative Jeff Miller of Florida is proposing the money go the United Service Organizations to help operate their welcome centers for U.S. military personnel around the world.

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